We Belong to One Another: Week 3 | Day 6

The truth that, in the Christian life, we belong to and need one another is easier to accept with some people than others. Br. Curtis Almquist invites us to the practice of “philonexia,” love of the stranger, for in the Good News of Christ, there are no strangers.

Question: What is the core of the Gospel (“Good News”) for you?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Well of Life

Transcript: We cannot do this alone.  You cannot do this alone.  We need one another.  The metaphor that’s used in the epistles about our being followers of Jesus is that we’re members of a body.  The fact that not everyone is a head, or not everyone is a heart, or not everyone is a foot, or a kidney, doesn’t mean that they are not essential.  We all need one another and we belong to one another.  And so when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus leaves us with what we call the Lord’s Prayer.  And, you know, it’s plural, “Our Father who art in Heaven…Give us…Forgive us,” it’s presuming that we belong to one another, that we are partnered with one another, that we need one another.

This is easier to imagine with some people than with others.  And yet I think what is often times true is that what could appear to us as a stain on someone else, as something that we might find repelling, or might elicit our judgment is probably not a stain. It’s probably a scar that they won well, and that we would be greatly moved if we learned more about them, more about people whom we find are different, maybe even repelling.

There is a fascinating word that’s used in the letter to the Hebrews, and that is the word for the love of strangers, philonexia.  It’s exactly the opposite of xenophobia, which is being afraid of strangers, or put off by strangers.  The letters of the Hebrews says this reminder to love the brothers or sisters, and do not forget the stranger, because there are no strangers to Jesus.

My suggestion to you is to reflect on why is it that you are a follower of Jesus.  What is at the core of the gospel for you?  Remember, gospel is good news.  So what is good?  What is good that is compelling, and is transformative in your life?  And what is news?  News is different than olds.  What is news?  How is God coming to you, meeting you, inviting you, serving you, serving through you to others.  If someone were to ask you what is the core of the gospel, could you give them an answer in – let’s say – three sentences, which would be demonstrated both by your lips, what you say, and by your life, what you do.

– Br. Curtis Almquist

Question: What is the core of the Gospel (“Good News”) for you?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity


  1. Rhode on April 13, 2019 at 10:43

    I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

    The good news for me is the unexpected joy I receive that Gods desire to reveal himself through nature, through scripture, through others and most amazingly through Jesus the Christ is because he loves me.
    The good news is the real possibility to live, die and live again in the fullness of that love. The Good News promises we are ever loved, never forsaken, as we change from stone to flesh. That through Jesus we learn to love, serve, offer great mercy and have our being. The Good News is no one is a stranger.

  2. Br Graham-Michoel Wills on April 20, 2017 at 03:24

    This is imperative to the Christian way of life, in any form or type of community, not least when a member of the community becomes estranged from their brothers, or sisters. Without the acknowledgement of the stranger in the midst, then one, the community is broken, and two, purpose of being followers of Christ is damaged, and very hard to repair – to re-member – in either direction.

  3. Pam on March 18, 2017 at 10:48

    For me the core of the Gospel is the power of God’s love for me and all people and his presence acting in my life.

  4. Verlinda on March 17, 2017 at 22:55

    The core of the Gospel for me is joy, love and hope. I try to share those gifts with others I meet; often God isn’t even mentioned in the encounters, but I have no doubt that God is working through me, even in times when I don’t feel like I’ve done well. God works in all situations and in ways I can’t begin to comprehend.

  5. Stan on March 17, 2017 at 19:28

    I found today’s video to be particularly interesting. There are so many cliche sayings like “we are all in this together”, or “no man is an island”. But the message “we belong to each other” is not often heard. I’d never really dwelled upon the message that “We are all members of a (single) body” before. (At least, not since my fascination with the whole concept of the Borg.) But I must say that I agree. Working together is what gets things worked out. But it seems that so few understand this today. It’s such a shame that they don’t seem to teach collaboration in school any more.
    Anyway, for me, the good news of the Gospel is, simply put, love. When you understand that you are loved by God, it makes it easier to love yourself, which makes it easier to love others. And when you live love, life is just so much easier … it gives you the strength to deal with pretty much whatever comes up.
    Interesting conversations up above. I am often somewhat of an introvert, especially in settings where I’m around a lot of people I don’t know. I sometimes feel that I don’t really fit in, although I realize that’s simply because I don’t really know them, so I don’t understand “the rules”. I don’t know the “requirements” of fitting in. So, what I usually do is search the space for someone else who seems “left out”. I’ll bet I’ve got something in common with that person. And often, the one who’s been “left out” turns out to be far more interesting than those who are members of the “crowd”, because that person is often “different”. I’ve befriended many people over the years by approaching a “loner in the crowd” and starting a conversation up with them … generally starting with an introduction, followed by some simple questions to find out a little bit about them. And this has lead to several lasting friendships.
    So this has now come full circle. We are of one body. We all belong to one another.

  6. gwedhen nicholas on March 17, 2017 at 17:09

    The core of the good news for me is that I am loved so unconditionally by God. Because Jesus died on the cross and has the eternal victory, I can know this generous Love no matter what I do, or do not do.” Good works” impress God only in so far as they are done in response to His Perfect Love. If we love God, this response will happen naturally. It isn’t something that we have to work at. Gods’ work suffices.

  7. Sue on March 17, 2017 at 16:56

    My answer is simple- unconditional love.
    Love of God for us, and our love for others as we are all Gods children.
    I find both of these hard.I think God loves me but I often find it difficult to feel this. I try to love others- some of the time- but often I am judgemental and often I hold back, especially if they are repelling.Or if I help someone and they aren’t especially grateful. I’m working on it…
    I liked the comment about seeing a stain as a scar.

  8. Bryan Cook on March 17, 2017 at 11:24

    Interaction with total strangers and even relatives and religious teachers can be very dangerous unless done initially with caution, with measuring acceptablity, understanding motives and respecting boundaries. Often the appropriateness of the setting is key…a church community, an AA meeting, a hospice, a musical jam. A Brother’s habit provides more of sense of security to others than my daily wear!
    This does not mean that I should not smile and be pleasant; engage and , with time, establish a trust on which to mutually build and develop.
    I have learned that I should never “judge a book by its cover” and I pray that I not make emnities and for forgiveness for those I have instigated in the past.
    I trust and love our God ; He continues to work miracles in my life and I share this good news. But I know that we all have our demons, some much more than others.

  9. Aliki D Barnstone on March 17, 2017 at 10:44

    I am Greek-American and really appreciate that you have used Greek words in these sermons. The word is “Philoxenia,” not “Philonexia.” In answer to your question about the core of the Gospel for me: “Rabbi, what is the great commandment of the Torah?….to love the Lord your God with all your heart….and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving your neighbor must be understood, I believe, as loving the stranger. “Philoxenia” is the word for hospitality in Greek and etymologically means “loving the stranger.” It puts to mind the passage in Hebrews: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Speaking for myself, it is sometimes easier to open my door to people who are “repelling” than to open my heart. As a Greek, it’s pretty much instinct to open the door to my home and offer a meal. Opening my heart to people who are worse that repelling and are reprehensible (or deplorable)–that’s something I’m working on.

  10. Ruth West on March 17, 2017 at 10:12

    I believe that John 3:16 sums up the gospel story. It is no wonder that it is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Text” of the Bible. ” Whosoever believeth” includes each and all.
    Yesterday I stopped at a gas station to put fuel in my car. I could not get my gas cap off. I was so frustrated! I finally walked over to a stranger nearby and asked for help. He so willingly, with a smile, came over and loosened the cap. What a help he was to me! I am an independent type, and it was hard for me to ask, but I needed help, and he so willingly came.
    One of my greatest compliments was from a pastor, who told me that my spiritual gift is hospitality. I do love people, and love to have others come to visit and to eat with me. Consequently, I have many friends of those like me, and some who are opposites in race and religion. God is so good to me, to have allowed me the privilege of a loving family and many friends. Praise His name!
    Thanks for reminding us of this great mark of love.

  11. Kristi Leighton on March 17, 2017 at 10:04

    For me it’s simple- God is love and he loves us always. His love for us is constant and the best way I can honor that is by helping and serving others. I try to do this as much as I can, but I know I can always do more. I often struggle with “love thy neighbor” when I observe them doing things that are wrong. I don’t like the judgmental side of me because who am I to judge? I am full of flaws but try to see the good in each person. There’s a saying “be kind whenever possible. it is always possible.” I agree with this but it can be so hard to behave that way sometimes. I don’t want negativity in my heart but it’s a battle I seem to lose more often than I win. I am in a process of evolving so all I can do is keep trying to come from a place of love and kindness.

  12. BETSY Nininger on March 17, 2017 at 09:58

    Three very important words travel with me and sum up the core of the Gospel for me. In no particular order they are
    Love, Forgiveness and Promise.

  13. Rhode on March 17, 2017 at 09:03

    the good news is that the kingdom of god is real and here now and is available to anyone who desires it via the life death and resurrection of jesus the christ. to love god with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves requires a supernatural grace that god offers to us everyday. the good news is that this is all very real and possible and important.

  14. Judi Appel on March 17, 2017 at 07:38

    Happy St Patrick’s Day- The core of the gospel for me is relationship with Jesus first. I struggle with keeping myself in the absolutely necessary plurality of Christ’s Body, the church, other believers, people from all walks of life. My old tendency was to be extroverted but not really pay attention to individuals in the crowd. My new tendency is to isolate within the “”crowd”” stuck in my own mindset which makes me miserable sometimes, but I love how Jesus shows me a balanced way of living: go alone to be with God our beloved Father, to be given spiritual and physical healing, sustenance. Then go among all the people, saints and sinners alike; especially the seemingly unloveable or the “strangers”. Love them as they are; see them and listen for God’s voice telling you how you can bless them. I am also inspired by St. Patrick who ministered to slaves and women foremost in his days on earth. Lord help me to take my place among the captives, to love them and see them as you see them. Amen

  15. John David Spangler on March 17, 2017 at 06:16

    For me the core of the Gospel is expressed in The Gospel According to John, 1:1-18: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it . . . The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. . . From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. . . grace and truth came through Jesus Christ . . . God the only Son . . .who has made him known.”

  16. Kathy on March 17, 2017 at 05:17

    The core of the gospel for me is that we have a wonderful loving and forgiving God. This alone should remind us to show kindness to even those that have been unkind to us. It’s turning the other cheek with a smile and a few friendly words. This can be an extremely difficult task in many situations but we are still asked to do so never the less. All are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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